While carrying out a fire-fighting mission on August 8, Hellenic Air Force (HAF) PZL-Mielec M-18 Dromader serial number 128, crashed at Machairado on the island of Zakynthos. Local firefighters were able to rescue the pilot and he was reported to be safe and in good health, with no injuries. The aircraft was written-off.
It was one of two Dromaders that had been deployed to assist firefighters on the ground who were battling a fire in the Lagopodo-Macherado area of the island. The crash was reported to have been due to the pilot losing control as a result of the hot air layers caused by the fire, following which the aircraft crashed after hitting trees while the pilot was trying to make a forced landing.
The HAF originally took delivery of a total of 30 of the Polish-manufactured Dromaders, the first of which entered service in July 1983. These were supplemented by three M-18S variants delivered in July 2002. At least eleven of these have previously been lost in accidents. Although used for both crop-spraying and aerial firefighting, it is now primarily used in the latter role.
All are operated by 359 Monada Aeroporikis Eksipiretisis Diomosion Ypiresion (MAEDY – State Services Support Unit) ‘Dimitra’/351 Mira Aeroporikon Efarmogon (MAE – Air Applications Squadron) at Tatoi. The unit has regular detachments deployed during the fire season to Agrinio, Kalamata and Sparta, plus other locations as required.